Stephon Gilmore landing spot No. 4: Las Vegas Raiders
Alright now bear with me, this one is more on gut feel. With a postseason berth despite dealing with the wackiest mix of in-season drama this side of the CW’s football show All-American, the Raiders may be seen as a destination team again. Especially when the team plays in a destination location like Las Vegas.
After a much-maligned 2020 season where the Raiders defense ranked 25th overall, that side of the ball improved to 14th in the NFL in 2021. The improvement was there for sure, but there are still some holes that need to be addressed.
Las Vegas’ secondary had some struggles, as it allowed 29 TD tosses (tied for ninth-most in the league), allowed a passer rating of 96.4 (also ninth highest in the NFL), and ranked dead last in the league with six INTs.
The Raiders could also move on from one or both of their two former Pro Bowlers Casey Hayward and Desmond Trufant, as they enter their age-32 and 33 seasons this fall, respectively.
I have a gut feeling about the potential of this spot due to Gilmore’s connection to Josh McDaniels, as the former Pats offensive coordinator heads back to the AFC West for his second head coaching stint. He may not have directly coached Gilly with his unit, but New England guys always seem to find a way to stick together.
Speaking of that, McDaniels pulled another former Patriot along with him for his coaching staff with new DC Patrick Graham.
Graham worked in New England in various roles from 2009-15 and helped the Pats claim their fourth of six Super Bowl titles to cap the 2014 season.
Not only is Graham considered one of the rising defensive minds in football, but Gilmore would also be working under another former New England staffer in new general manager Dave Ziegler. Now that sounds like a reunion!
I think the New England ties would play huge here. Gilmore’s Pats tenure (2017-21) did not overlap with Graham’s, but he speaks the same language coming from New England. Money may not be the biggest draw here, as the Raiders enter free agency in solid standing with roughly $21.3 million to spend (which ranks 13th in the NFL, according to Spotrac), but they have enough to land a guy like Gilmore.
Plus, he’d be playing with one of the better pass-rushing fronts in the league led by Maxx Crosby, Yannick Ngakoue, and Carl Nassib.
I’m not saying it will happen, but there are a lot of dots that could connect Gilly to Sin City.